Jakarta: Defending champions India would be looking for an outright win against South Korea in their final Super 4 round-robin league game to secure their place in the Asian Cup men’s hockey tournament final here on Tuesday.
India had nearly secured a spot in the title fight on Sunday before Razie Rahim proved to be Malaysia’s savior with a hat-trick in a captivating 3-3 draw in their second ‘Super 4’ encounter.
India had defeated Japan 2-1 in their first game on Saturday.
As the Super 4 stands, South Korea is at the top with a goal difference of +2 (5-3) and India (GD) is in second place with +1 (5-4).
Japan with two defeats is out of the equation, while Malaysia (GD) 0 (5-5) has a big chance if they can beat Japan by a large margin (at least 2 goals), provided the match between India and South Korea in a draw ends.
But on Tuesday, the Indians would try to avoid the permutations and combinations with an outright win over the Koreans.
However, it would be easier said than done, as the Koreans looked very different in the Super 4s, having drawn 2-2 against Malaysia and then beating Japan 3-1.
The Indians also made great strides after their first two pool games.
India not only accomplished an impossible task of beating host nation Indonesia by a margin of more than 15 goals in their final group game to qualify for the Super 4s, but also took a narrow 2-1 win over Japan, beating them 2- 5 defeated in the preliminary stages.
Against Malaysia on Sunday, the Indians bravely fought back, coming from two goals behind with a 3-2 lead in the last quarter before Rahim converted a penalty corner from the last hooter to snatch victory from India’s hands, forcing their place in could have sealed the competition. the top collision.
The Indian vanguard looked impressive with players like Uttam Singh, SV Sunil and Pawan Rajbhar shone with their industrious playing.
It was even Sunil who scored a fine goal against Malaysia from a sharp angle after Rajbhar set it up for the former with his powerful play in midfield.
In fact, the Indians created countless chances, but the strikers failed to get the decisive touch in the final third, an area that head coach Sardar Singh would like his boys to improve on.
Midfield has done well so far, but it is the Birendra Lakra-led back-line who have to pull their socks off as they allowed unnecessary penalty corners that took advantage of the Malaysians.
Suraj Karkera was impressive under the Indian goalpost, making countless saves with his alertness and positioning.
But against the Koreans, the Indians will have to be at their best, as their opponents are known for brisk counter-attacks.
Meanwhile, Japan will face Malaysia in the other Super 4 match of the day.
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